Playoff Giannis More Destructive Than Expected?


It’s that time of year again. The regular season is over and the playoffs are here. The Bucks have the best record in the league. They have the Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer. They have the likely MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team is primed to make a legitimate run at an NBA title this season for the first time since they reached the conference finals in 2001. The key to success this year is how well Giannis performs, and how he can lead his teammates out of the first round. Is it possible for Playoff Giannis to unleash an additional wrath?

The Next Step

Last season, the Bucks struggled against a Celtics team without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. A big reason for that was the play of Terry Rozier, or “Scary Terry,” as he became known as. Eric Bledsoe matched up against him all seven games, and it’s no secret Rozier outplayed him. He hit some clutch buckets in key moments of the games, and often made Bledsoe look silly.

That matchup is just one reason the Bucks struggled. It felt to me like Khris Middleton outshined Giannis in a few of those games. As a leader on the team, you want to assert yourself as the best player on the court during every game in a playoff series. Game five stands out in my mind as the one contest that proved Giannis still has some things to learn. He took ten shots, and shot 5-10 for 16 points. As a result, the Bucks lost by five, and only scored 87 points as a team. The best player on the team needs to take charge and bear the load in those important games.

Giannis knows he needs to be the leader of this team. Because of the way last season ended, he took his off-season to another level. He added about 20 pounds of pure muscle working out in the gym in order to compete with other bigs down low. Perhaps most promising is the fact Giannis took to training with Kobe Bryant to improve his game and learn about Kobe’s winning ways. With the work he’s been putting in, Kobe had some high praise for him.




Expectations for “Playoff Giannis”

Giannis took the next step in his development over the course of the past year. If you know anything about him, you know he has the “Mamba Mentality.” He showed he’s willing to do what it takes, whether it’s scoring 45 points in a win or staying in the gym to work on his game after a loss. Giannis showed this season he can be the guy that leads his team to victories in dominating fashion. Now it’s about him translating his MVP-caliber play in the regular season to the playoffs.

I think everyone expects Giannis to go out for blood in the first round. The Greek Freak, along with everyone else, knows he has something to prove. At 24 years old he’s becoming of the best players in the league. But to really show everyone how good he is, he needs his play to translate to playoff wins. Giannis is already halfway there, as he led the Bucks to a 60-22 record in the regular season. But it’s crunch time now. And I expect that not only will his play translate to the playoffs, but he’ll also take it up a notch. He wants to show the world what he’s capable of. He wants to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Milwaukee for the first time since 1971. And he’ll do anything it takes to get there.


First Round Preview

The Bucks swept the season series 4-0 against the Pistons, winning each game by an average of almost 15 points per game. In those four games, Giannis averaged 20.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG AND 7.0 APG on just over 58% shooting. Those numbers are on par with his career playoff splits of 20.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 4.4 APG. The way I see it, Giannis will only improve on those numbers in this series as he looks to send the Bucks to the second round. He’s already off to a great start after contributing 24 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in a Game 1 stomping of Detroit. If Giannis continues to dominate, the Pistons really will “fear the deer.”


About Patrick Konkel

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